Overview

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is an herb from the mint family. The leaves, which have a mild lemon aroma, are used to make medicine and flavor foods.

Lemon balm contains chemicals that seem to have a sedative and calming effect. It might also reduce the growth of some viruses and bacteria.

People use lemon balm for cold sores, anxiety, stress, insomnia, indigestion, dementia, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Cold sores (herpes labialis). Applying a lotion containing a lemon balm extract (LomaHerpan by Infectopharm) to cold sores right after they appear seems to shorten healing time and reduce symptoms.
  • Stress. Taking lemon balm by mouth increases calmness, memory, and alertness in adults under mental stress. Taking lemon balm along with other ingredients might also reduce stress.
There is interest in using lemon balm for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Lemon balm is likely safe when consumed in amounts found in foods. Lemon balm supplements are possibly safe when used at a dose of up to 500 mg daily for up to 6 months. Side effects are generally mild and might include increased appetite, nausea, dizziness, and wheezing. There isn't enough reliable information to know if lemon balm is safe to use for more than 6 months.

When applied to the skin: Lemon balm is possibly safe for most adults. It may cause skin irritation.

Special Precautions and Warnings

When taken by mouth: Lemon balm is likely safe when consumed in amounts found in foods. Lemon balm supplements are possibly safe when used at a dose of up to 500 mg daily for up to 6 months. Side effects are generally mild and might include increased appetite, nausea, dizziness, and wheezing. There isn't enough reliable information to know if lemon balm is safe to use for more than 6 months.

When applied to the skin: Lemon balm is possibly safe for most adults. It may cause skin irritation. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if lemon balm is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Lemon balm is possibly safe when taken by mouth by children for about one month.

Surgery: Lemon balm might cause too much drowsiness if combined with medications used during and after surgery. Stop using lemon balm at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Thyroid disease: Lemon balm may change thyroid function, reduce thyroid hormone levels, and interfere with thyroid hormone replacement therapy. Avoid lemon balm if you have thyroid disease.

Interactions ?

    Moderate Interaction

    Be cautious with this combination

  • Sedative medications (CNS depressants) interacts with LEMON BALM

    Lemon balm might cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Some medications, called sedatives, can also cause sleepiness and slowed breathing. Taking lemon balm with sedative medications might cause breathing problems and/or too much sleepiness.

  • Thyroid hormone interacts with LEMON BALM

    Taking lemon balm seems to decrease how well thyroid hormone works in the body. Taking lemon balm with thyroid hormone might decrease the effects of the thyroid hormone.

Dosing

Lemon balm is available in many forms, including supplements, combination products, lotions, ointments, massage oils, and others. There isn't enough reliable information to know what an appropriate dose of lemon balm might be. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult a healthcare professional before using.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version.
© Therapeutic Research Faculty 2020.